Jason Alves Costa

1991 –⁠ 2022

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It is with sadness that we share the passing of Jason Alves Costa. Jason died on Monday, July 4, having prepared for death by the devout reception of the sacraments and the careful planning of his own funeral.

 

Jason worked at Christ the Redeemer from 2014 to 2017 and was a friendly face to all who passed through the office. More recently he worked with Msgr Smith at the John Paul II Pastoral Centre as the coordinator of the Permanent Diaconate Office. He was an invaluable member of both the CTR and Archdiocesan teams and will be dearly missed by all who knew him.

 

Funeral Vigil with Rosary

Our Lady of Fatima Portuguese Parish

1423 East 13th Avenue

Vancouver BC, V5N 2B5

Sunday, July 10 at 7:00 pm

 

Funeral Mass

Saint Mary’s Parish

5251 Joyce Street

Vancouver, BC V5R 4G8

Monday, July 11 at 10:00 am

"Where There Is Suffering, Hope Abounds"

By Jason Costa, Summer 2022 edition of The Deacon Quarterly newsletter

If there is ever a “good” time to be in the hospital, it should be during Lent. As most of you know, that was my experience, and I must say the Sunday readings this year for Lent resonated with the “cross” I bore lying in a hospital bed for four and a half weeks on antibiotics for a blood infection.


Pain, discomfort, subpar food - really any feeling that comes from being in a hospital - nobody appreciates. But as Christians, as desolate the situation may be, or even if we are just visiting someone, the Lord reminds us to recall that it is through suffering that we have hope. In the Gospel of Matthew, He says “come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. . .” (cf. Matthew
11:28). This hope is to live in the peace and comfort of the Lord, that he is always with us because of his abounding love for us.

 

As Catholics we are very fortunate to share in his love through the Eucharist. Those who minister to the sick in our hospitals and care homes know the importance of being able to take the Body of Christ to the infirm. It is an assurance that the Lord is with us in our trials, and we can still be nourished by the graces of offering up our sufferings in union with his.

 

For this, I am very grateful to Deacon Marty Cayer, and his wife Lora, for their willingness to bring me communion each week since I’ve been in hospital. As well I am grateful to Msgr. Smith for providing me the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. But most of all, I am grateful to the entire diaconate community for your prayers and well-wishes. We often underestimate the power of prayer, but I truly felt uplifted and inspired by your faithfulness.


There are two scripture verses that through any of my ordeals, which I have faced for some 13 years now, have always drawn me close to the Lord in these “desert” times - Philippians 4:13 and Romans 5:3-5.

Truly, the Lord gives us strength to push past the trials in our lives, though only if we choose to turn to him and trust in him. If we do this, we will receive the peace and hope he afforded us through his death and resurrection. A peace where we know we can rest in him and a hope that we can continue to carry on his mission of love in our lives, with our families and friends, and in our communities.


On that note, I do miss living this mission with you all! I hope to be with you soon to continue our journey in the Permanent Diaconate together.


I wish to leave you with some reassuring words I read in an article from Pope Francis recently: “From the eyes of all those who are weighed down by the trials of life, He [Jesus] looks out at us with mercy and says to us: “Peace be with you!””

Jason Costa's Funeral Homily

By Msgr Smith

Son – Grandson – Nephew – Cousin – Friend – Coach – Wheelchair athlete – Colleague – Catechist – Coordinator. 

 

Jason Costa was all these things during his 31 years on earth, and more. But today I invite you to remember him as a teacher—because I think his most lasting legacy to us is the lesson of his life. 

 

Jason didn’t plan every detail of this funeral Mass because he was vain, or even because he was efficient. He saw this as an opportunity to share with us his deepest beliefs, beliefs that were tried and tested over many years. 

 

Today he wants to teach us something. Like a good teacher, he is using a textbook—the Word of God—and examples—his own life. 

 

Jason learned well the lesson he was called to teach. He learned it through years of suffering, physical and emotional—but also through joy and hope, gifts he received and gifts he shared. 

 

What was this lesson?  That it is possible for an ordinary man to suffer with Christ and so share His triumph. 

 

He chose our first reading from the Book of Wisdom to profess his faith in immortality; he believed that his suffering was a path to glory. Of course, I or any preacher could tell you that, but there’s no reason you should believe me. But there is every reason to believe Jason.  

 

Jason lived by the law of love. Imitating Christ, who laid down His life for us, he sought to serve his brothers and sisters in the Church in a variety of ministries. His choice of a second reading from the First Epistle of St. John could well serve as an epitaph: he laid down his life for his brothers and sisters. 

 

St. John’s words also reassure us that Jason’s love for others, even more than his many accomplishments, gives us the hope we seek of his eternal salvation. 

 

As the Gospel Acclamation says, blessed are those “who die in the Lord; they will rest from their labours for their deeds follow them.” 

 

Although he chose today’s Gospel from the Scripture readings for funerals, I can’t say I have ever heard it read before. It’s from Jesus’ farewell speech to his disciples. What did Jason want us to think? 

 

I found one answer in a commentary on the first verse of the text, which said “The longing of Jesus’ heart is for his disciples to be with him in the Father’s house (14:2).”  Jason is not comparing himself to the Lord, but he has the same thought as he leaves us: he desires that we may be with him in glory. Every one of us, when the Lord calls. 

 

If I am right, this is a profoundly loving gift to us from Jason. 

 

So far, in all three readings, we are looking toward Heaven. Even the Psalm, with its vision of green pastures and restful waters, is heavenly. 

 

But that is not all Jason has to teach us. There are some earthly lessons as well. 

 

In an article he wrote for the newsletter that he himself had started for the Permanent Diaconate, Jason cited two passages from St. Paul. I didn’t look them up at the time, but I have done so now. 

 

In Romans chapter 5, Paul says we boast in our sufferings, “knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produced hope”—hope that does not disappoint us. 

 

While that hope reaches to eternity, suffering can bring blessings on earth: endurance and character. Jason did not want a eulogy at his funeral, but I really don’t need to point out that he was a living example of this truth. Once again, he is teaching us. 

 

I don’t know about you, but if I must deal with serious illness some day Jason’s example will be front and centre. 

He also tells us that he found strength in Paul’s words to the Philippians, where the Apostle writes “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:13) 

 

In Jason’s own words, “the Lord gives us strength to push past the trials in our lives, though only if we choose to turn to him and trust in him.” 

 

To have battle cancer so long and so well would have been an accomplishment in itself, had Jason spent his career in a bank, where he began. But that was not enough. He decided to grow and to reach his full human and spiritual potential. 

 

Spiritually, Jason’s passion to teach and share the faith his parents planted in his heart at baptism at Our Lady of Fatima was so strong that just one parish wasn’t enough for him. 

 

During his years of active involvement in parish life he sang or taught or led at St. Mary’s, Our Lady of Sorrows, and Sacred Heart; and when he was the parish secretary at Christ the Redeemer, he filled in for the grade seven catechism teacher during her maternity leave. 

 

It's not by accident that all five of these parishes have been represented at Jason’s funeral liturgies, by priests, deacons, readers, or servers. He planned it this way. 

 

Even these years of generous and gifted parish ministry weren’t enough for Jason. He felt called to serve the whole local Church in the Permanent Diaconate Office. Beginning as an administrative assistant supporting me, he ended as the coordinator, with me supporting him. 

 

In the permanent diaconate Jason truly fulfilled his vocation as teacher. Not only did he begin to give talks to the future deacons, but he also became involved in every aspect of formation planning and in our relationship with St. Mark’s College.  

 

I still remember realizing that something had shifted when he said “no need for you to meet with the dean. I’ll go.” 

His service to the Archdiocese contributed enormously to the success we have had training permanent deacons, which is recognized by the honour of having our Archbishop preside at Jason’s funeral Mass.  

 

(The other day the Archbishop remarked that it is now hard to imagine the Archdiocese without our deacons; it will be hard to imagine our deacons without Jason.) 

 

But his work also contributed to the full development of his gifts and talents. By the time of his death, Jason had become what God wanted him to be, both spiritually and humanly speaking. 

 

The American inventor Thomas Edison once said, “If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.” I can certainly tell you that Jason astounded me.  

 

Jason prepared a banquet from God’s word for us today, sharing the truths and promises on which he had based his life. But I want to close with words of St. Ignatius of Loyola. I texted them the day he told me he was dying:  

 

“We should not prefer health to sickness, riches to poverty, honour to dishonour, a long life to a short life … Our one desire and choice should be what is more conducive to the end for which we are created.” (The Spiritual Exercises, “First Principle and Foundation”) 

 

Not for a minute do I suggest that Jason did not prefer a long life to a short life, or health to sickness. But he accepted that his hardships were a path to peace and that his trials could lead towards the end for which he was created, namely the salvation of his soul. 

 

My heart breaks today, but it is not sorrow for Jason but for his loving parents Maria and Bernadino who walked the Way of the Cross with their son with so much love for so many years. We pray for them today as they face this terrible loss. 

 

But for Jason I do not feel sorrow but admiration, confident as I am that he left this world having fulfilled precisely the purpose that God had for him. 

 

May he rest from his labours and trials, welcomed to the Father’s house as a true teacher of the ways of Christ.  

 

Que ele descanse em paz. 

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